Due to a “severe budget shortfall,” the Ramona Municipal Water District laid off five district employees on Friday as part of an effort to close the budget gap, said General Manager Ralph McIntosh.
The employees’ positions ranged from clerical staff to technical staff, said McIntosh.
In addition to the layoffs, a position that will be vacated in December due to a retirement will not be filled, he said. The district also made some “inter-departmental moves” in the water and wastewater operations, McIntosh added.
McIntosh said the district had a $1 million shortfall and, with the reduced staff positions along with recently announced cuts within the fire department, he believes the district has achieved the budget gap for this year.
Earlier this month, the water district cut the staff on the county rescue rig headquartered in the district and eliminated the reserve firefighter program, resulting in a total savings of about $450,000.
With the district’s fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30, McIntosh said, “The district will review in January to see if more cuts are necessary.”
Besides declining water sales and property tax revenues, the water district is losing another $450,000 to $500,000 of property tax revenues to the state due to the suspension of Proposition 1A. Although this proposition protects local government funding for local services, if the governor declares a fiscal necessity and the legislature votes to suspend the proposition, the state can help itself to some of the property tax revenues in local agencies.
McIntosh said he presented the budget information and proposals to the water district board of directors in their Aug. 25 closed session with the attorney present. In such a case, McIntosh said, the board listens and accepts the proposal but a vote is not required.
According to board President Jim Robinson, the board learned at that session that positions would be eliminated or vacated but did not know who would be affected by the cuts.
Although these recent cuts were not on the agenda for an open meeting, two firefighters, speaking as residents, addressed the board at the Sept. 8 meeting with their concerns about the reduced staff in the fire department.